The small intestinal bacterial flora of 15 patients with chronic renal insufficiency was compared with that of subjects with blind loop syndrome. 9 patients were on regular hemodialysis with high protein intake and 6 (serum creatinine 7.5 to 12.5 mg/dl) were maintained on low protein diet. The chronic renal patients harbored a greatly increased microbial flora of both anaerobes and aerobes in the duodenum and jejunum, quantitatively comparable to those in blind loop subjects. The composition did not differ significantly in the two groups. Some organisms may have the potential to metabolize substrates which reach the intestinal lumen from the diet and bile, and perhaps to generate toxic metabolites that could contribute to uremic toxicity or malabsorption.